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How close should you get to your teen's date

September 21, 2000

How close should you get to your teen's date



By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Your teen's dateSo your teenage daughter is dating the high school quarterback.

They've been "going together" for a couple of months, and you're OK with that.

continued

He's a nice kid - polite, pleasant. He puts up with your 8-year-old son's teasing. He seems comfortable at your family dinner table, even when Grandma repeats the same story he's heard several times.

Then uh-oh. They break up.

Now what?

You were used to having that boy around. You miss him.

Were you too close? What impact does your relationship with your daughter's boyfriend have on their relationship? How close should you get to the kid your kid is dating?

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You can be friendly without being a friend to the young person, says Linda Donovan, a social worker with a practice in Hagerstown.

If a parent gets too close to that person, the son or daughter may get jealous, she says. For example, your daughter might not like her boyfriend to spend every Sunday afternoon watching football with her dad. She may not always appreciate you telling her how wonderful her boyfriend is.

The parent has to remain an adult, Donovan advises.

Patricia Robinson cautions against making too verbal a statement for or against the person your kid is dating. Unless you're worried about danger - from drugs or abuse - in the relationship, Robinson, chaplain/therapist at Brook Lane Health Services in Hagerstown, believes that sometimes it's better for parents to say less. Teenagers often do the opposite of what their parents tell them, she says.

But she believes that children get the message that parents care - even if they sometimes seem to rebuke their advice.

Sue Mayhugh of Williamsport has teased her 16-year-old daughter, Katie, that she's "doomed" to a future with her boyfriend, Josh Berger. Not only do her parents like him, they also have come to know his family. The dads play golf together.

Katie, a junior at Williamsport High School, doesn't mind.

"Honestly, I think that you have to get close to the family, or it's just not the same for the relationship," Katie says.

She and Berger, 18, have been dating for a year and almost seven months. They had a couple of classes together at Williamsport High and were friends before going out.

He's been a part of the family, says Mayhugh.

"He takes time to talk to Mom and Dad, too," she says.

Both kids are busy. He is a student at Hagerstown Community College. Both are involved in extracurricular activities after school and have part-time jobs. Both plan on completing four-year college degrees.

"You can't map their futures out for them," Mayhugh says.

How will she handle it if the young couple breaks up?

Mayhugh doesn't know.

"You just can't turn your back on that and say goodbye," she says.

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